Why HERO Failed

Why HERO Failed

An expatriate's perspective on Houston's blunder
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I am a Texan, born and raised. I am very proud of this fact. I'm even prouder of the fact that I'm a Houstonian. We have a rich history (literally and figuratively), our food can't be beat, and we gave the world Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.

"H-Town, comin' comin' down" - Almighty B

And despite my deep sense of pride for my city, I can still be disappointed by it. Take, for example, the recent repealing of HERO (Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance). The ordinance, which prohibited discrimination in housing and employment (among other things) based on age, race, gender, sexual orientation, and, most emphasized in the media, sexual identification, was repealed in a 61 to 39 percent vote.

The reasons it failed are simple: lies and transphobia.

Conservative city leaders (and my governor, Greg Abbott) blatantly lied to the people of Houston, misinforming them on a crucial piece of legislation. The entirety of HERO was reduced to one simple point: "men in women's bathrooms." The idea of a burly, tatted-up biker waking up one morning, saying "I'm a woman now!" and walking into a woman's restroom to do whatever he pleases struck terror in the hearts of many sad, simple voters. It became a joke to some, an all-too-real threat to others, and many failed to do their research, allowing men who believe that Jesus is one of the three branches of government to speak on their behalf and to sway their opinions in favor of discrimination.

They're here to use the potty.

What many failed to realize is that this ordinance affects so many more than transgendered people. The first paragraphs of the ordinance reads:

"Whereas, the City Council finds that all persons living in, working in, or visiting the City are entitled to be treated with equal dignity and respect and have to right to be free from discriminatory and unequal treatment; and

Whereas the City of Houston seeks to provide an environment that is free of any type of discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy ("Protected Characteristics")"

It's an anti-discrimination law. It's a piece of legislation advocating for equality among everybody. Houston literally went to the polls to strike down equality.

I'm all for supporting individual rights. If a business owner wants to refuse service to an African-American or a lesbian, it's their right as an American and a private business owner. They're plain dumb (the only color I see is green $$$) and they should be ashamed of themselves, but that's their decision and I wholly believe that they're allowed to stick to their guns, which, in Houston, is a literal right. However, what I refuse to accept in our society, and in my city, is ignorance. The refusal to learn. The refusal to do your homework in order to understand what you're voting on and permitting religious figures to influence your opinion as a voter.

And before anyone attacks me with "well what if they did do their research and they collectively decided that it wasn't in their best interest?", the fact that the official battle cry of the opposition was "no men in women's bathrooms" tells me, in spades, that they did not take the time to understand the ordinance.

I love my city with all my heart and soul, and I'm disappointed, but I'm not surprised. After all, this is the city that took so long to integrate its schools that it had to be forced by a federal judge to pick up the pace in 1970 (you know, almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education). Houston has never been and most likely will never be seen as progressive, why would they start now? If every Houstonian who voted against Proposition 1 checked the facts and made an informed decision, I wouldn't be nearly as angry as I am now. I can tolerate hate winning at the polls, but stupidity and fear-mongering should lose every time.

Should an occasion or a piece of legislation like this one be voted on again, I implore all of my fellow Houstonians to think. For the love of God, stop listening to your pastor and think for yourselves. You're an individual and you have power in our political system. Use it. Our Heavenly Father won't be waiting for you in the parking lot with a switchblade if you vote yes on something that will reduce (criminalize?) discrimination. From what I've read in the Bible, that's the kind of stuff that makes Him happy.

And if all that isn't enough to change your mind, keep in mind that Dallas has already passed a similar ordinance. Are y'all really going to let Dallas one-up us? Get it together, H-Town.

Think. Vote. Change. Please.

Cover Image Credit: http://images1.houstonpress.com/imager/u/745xauto/7872398/9792940.0.jpg

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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To The Generation That Might Not Care, A Green New Deal Is Crucial

Take care of our planet and our future.

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The reality of climate change and method to address the issue has been a source of contention in the United States for far too long. While Republicans trail behind Democrats a great deal in the percentage who believe long-term, irreversible climate change is a real problem, an equally if not more important gap to acknowledge is that between generations.

A universally taught science concept in elementary school is the difference between weather and climate. Weather is the day-to-day condition of the atmosphere — rainy, sunny, etc. Climate is the weather of a particular geographic location over a long period of time. The weather in an area may be snowy on a particular January day but might overall have a warm climate (Trump has yet to learn this concept).

The gap between generational support for not only believing in the reality of climate change but if the government should take steps to prevent further harm on our planet is apparent. A few reasons that older generations may not support aggressive climate change policies are that many are not going to see the lasting impact of their harmful actions, may not want to acknowledge that their way of life for a majority of their life was detrimental to the environment, or that they simply do not think it is the government's role to further regulate current practices and lifestyles in the name of the environment (an argument supported by many conservatives).

Data For Progress

The "Green New Deal," proposed earlier this month by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey is mainly a list of ideas and goals rather than a carefully laid-out plan, though aims to eliminate greenhouse emissions through the creation of millions of jobs in the renewable energy industry, moving toward public ownership (a major source of disagreement among Republicans and Democrats), and much more. This plan is a comprehensive overview of many sources of environmental degradation that our nation has not addressed, despite the majority of the nation believing the climate change is a real issue.

There will undoubtedly be a major shift in the operations of many companies due to aggressive climate change policies, which could have been avoided at a drastic level if our nation had chosen to make climate change prevention a priority. Unfortunately, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures will rise to an irreversible level in 12 years if the United States and other countries that greatly contribute to rising temperatures do not take action. A sense of urgency has been lacking for far too long is crucial.

Written into the recently proposed Green New Deal is a section detailing how it will attempt to remedy the inequality of those most directly impacted by climate change. Vulnerable communities, particularly communities of color, are not seeing an equitable distribution in disaster funding to prevent damage inflicted by the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters that have resulted as an increase in rising global temperatures — Which, regardless of your age, should be a glaring flaw in our current system.

I personally doubt that the entirety of the recently proposed Green New Deal will be enacted, however, I believe that anyone who values the quality of human life, clean air, clean water, food sources, for not just those in the United States, but around the world, should be supportive of a Green New Deal.

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